Economics & Achievement
New Strategies for Helping All Students Learn
Closing the "Reality Gap"
Our children live in a world unlike the world we entered when we left school. In a microscopic measure of human time, we have moved through the Agricultural Age, to the Industrial Age, to the Information Age, and now to another era altogether. Author Daniel Pink calls this new era the Conceptual Age. It requires us to be not only knowledgeable and competent, but creative and inquisitive as well. Our high schools rarely provide the learning needed for a Conceptual Age.
Planning for Equity
No magic formula will help school districts find long-term strategies for attaining—and maintaining—desegregation and equity. But districts can take some simple steps to further desegregation. A comprehensive focus on equity in programs and facilities is the best way to help desegregation stick. School board members and administrators, and the courts, must be attuned to opportunities to encourage desegregation as a part of district planning—and to the equity that such careful planning engenders.
Integration by Income
Spurred in part by increased state and federal pressure to raise overall student achievement and to reduce the achievement gap between groups, a growing number of districts are pursuing policies of socioeconomic school integration. Most of these districts rely primarily on a system of magnet schools and public school choice, rather than compulsory busing, to achieve their goal of socioeconomic integration. While most of these programs are fairly new, the early signs are promising.
The New Integration
Will focusing on socioeconomic status in school enrollment raise achievement? Advocates of economic integration say the policy makes sense on a number of levels. While many urban districts were once under court order to desegregate—that is, to consider race in student assignments—today something approaching the reverse is true. Recent court decisions have prohibited school districts from assembling their student bodies by race. But the benefits of economic integration go far beyond any legal advantages. Disadvantaged students do markedly better in middle-class schools.